Matthew 7:21-23, Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness."

In every generation God's people fall to this enormous temptation: substituting "being technically correct" for faith in God, His son [Jesus Christ], and His presence in our lives [the Holy Spirit]. Once we fall to that temptation, we quickly surrender to another: placing faith in our acts of "technical correctness" instead of placing faith in God.

In a lesson [Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7], Jesus contrasted the emphasis in his teachings with the emphasis in the Pharisees' teachings. Before we "trash the Pharisees," recognize the good things to say about them: their faith in God was enormous; they promoted spiritual cleanness and meticulous keeping of the Sabbath; they were experts in scripture [as Jesus acknowledged in Matthew 23:2,3]; to them scripture was a living expression of God's self-revelation, God inspired; they thought scripture must regulate all of life; they thought scripture should be protected.

We agree with them in all those matters. Unfortunately, too many of us agree with them on another matter. They believed "technical correctness was the essential evidence proving people belonged to God." Thus, a faith in God that changed life was insignificant if the person was not "technically correct." Of course, they determined what was and was not "technically correct."

Near the close of Matthew 5-7, Jesus included a judgment scene lesson. On that day some were excluded who were certain they should be included. "What an injustice! Do you know who we are? Do you know what we did? We prophesied in Your name! [Jesus prophesied.] We cast out demons in Your name! [Jesus cast demons out.] We performed numerous miracles in Your name! [Jesus performed numerous miracles.]"

In Jesus' day, these great evidences proved God sent the person: being a prophet with power over demons who could perform many miracles. To do this in "Your name" irrefutably proved the person represented Jesus with "technical correctness."

Jesus, the judge on that day, ordered these people to depart from him. Why? Carefully note the reason. They were ordered to depart from Jesus on that day because of the way they lived. "You mean a person can do what is 'technically correct' and still be rejected by Jesus on that day?" Jesus said it would happen.

Should we seek correctness before God? Yes! Is "correctness" a substitute for godly living? Never! We cannot earn salvation, but we can show by our lives how deeply we appreciate salvation. We will not regret godly lives on that day. Be as well as know!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 24 August 2003

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